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What types of apprenticeships are there? Your ultimate guide to apprenticeship levels in England

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National Apprenticeship Week

If you’ve been looking at apprenticeship vacancies, you’ll have seen phrases such as ‘higher apprenticeship’ or ‘level 2 apprenticeship’ and you might be wondering what these all mean.

So, how many levels of apprenticeships are there, and how do you decide which level is right for you?


Intermediate apprenticeships: level 2

These are entry-level apprenticeships that typically last one to two years and are equivalent to five C-A*-grade GCSEs. This route will give you a solid foundation of skills and knowledge to start your chosen career.

If you missed your GCSE Maths and English grade C or 4, the good news is that many intermediate apprenticeships support you to gain functional skills qualifications, so you could still be accepted onto the course.

Intermediate apprenticeships are available in lots of different industries, not just for the ‘traditional’ job roles you might think of – there are options in areas such as customer service, marketing, business administration and more.  


Advanced apprenticeships: level 3

Advanced apprenticeships are the next step for those who are ready to deepen their skills and knowledge around their chosen career. These take around two years to complete and will give you the equivalent of an NVQ level 3 or two A-levels.  

If you have five GCSEs at grade C or 4 and want to try an alternative route to traditional A-levels, an advanced apprenticeship could be for you. Perhaps you left school some time ago and want to pursue a new career path, or you want to get qualified to help boost your earning potential in your current industry. An advanced apprenticeship is a great option in any of these cases.


Higher apprenticeships: levels 4 and 5

These can take anywhere from one to five years to complete, and you’ll finish with the equivalent of an NVQ level 4, HND (Higher National Diploma) or a foundation degree.     

If you’ve already taken A-levels and are currently working, you can apply for a higher apprenticeship to help you reach more senior job roles. These routes are often advertised directly by employers, so you’ll find them on job searching sites such as Indeed, LinkedIn and Find a Job.

Competition for higher apprenticeships can be quite strong, since college-leavers and working adults can all apply. You can read our blog post on top tips for making a successful application to give yourself the best chance at landing a role.


Degree apprenticeships: levels 6 and 7

You can gain a qualification up to bachelors or even a master’s level through an apprenticeship. Although they take slightly longer at four years rather than three, you’ll have the competitive edge over other graduates of having practical experience under your belt.

Since degree apprenticeships are funded by employers, you won’t have to pay tuition fees as you would if you enrolled on a traditional undergraduate degree. You’ll also earn a salary at the same time, meaning you’ll graduate without debts.

Even more good news is that you can do a degree apprenticeship even if you already have a degree in a different subject! As long as your new degree apprenticeship involves significant new learning -for example changing career from digital marketing to graphic design - you’ll be entitled to funding.


Applying for an apprenticeship

In summary, whatever qualifications you already have and whatever subject you’re interested in, there’s likely to be an apprenticeship route for you.

Want to talk through your ideas and options with a professional careers adviser? Give us a call on 0800 100 900 or webchat with us at